The state of the state and the mind of the governor

Here’s what’s happening on Day 3 of the 2022 session of the Washington Legislature.

NO CAPTION NECESSARY: Logo for the Cornfield Report by Jerry Cornfield. 20200112

2022 Washington Legislature, Day 3 of 60

Everett Herald political reporter Jerry Cornfield: jcornfield@heraldnet.com | @dospueblos

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OLYMPIA, Jan. 12 — Good afternoon. It’s Wednesday. This sobering news arrived today: The inflation rate hit 7% in 2021.

On the lighter side, this morning a dozen Pickleball enthusiasts, including former Secretary of State Ralph Munro, urged a Senate panel to make it the official state sport. A vote on a bill to make it happen is penciled in for Thursday. Here’s the origin story of the legislation.

The state of Jay Inslee

Gov. Jay Inslee delivered his State of the State on Tuesday, urging lawmakers to act, and act quickly, on a robust agenda of policy and spending bills focused on life in a post-pandemic world.

Inslee didn’t dwell on the pressing present COVID challenges — daily records for new infections, packed hospitals, school closings, service reductions due to staffing shortages. No updates on when millions of rapid tests and KN95 masks would be available, for free, as he promised last week.

The governor exuded a sense that he, like many others, is accepting COVID will be a part of our daily lives for long while. He’s run out of initiatives. He’s likely sapped of energy to reimpose the harshest mandates.

Did that happen?

Republicans continue to press for an end date for emergency orders Inslee has issued. It caught my attention when, in the speech, Inslee lauded the Legislature as “a strong partner” by extending 26 emergency orders through the end of the pandemic. It did happen — on a partisan vote.

Getting the words right

Conversation on how to fix the state’s new law on use of force by law enforcement got off to an interesting start in the House Public Safety Committee Tuesday.

House Bill 1735 aims to clarify that force can be used, with reasonable care, to provide assistance in circumstances involving involuntary treatment or evaluation under civil or forensic commitment laws. It received support from all speakers.

There was quite a different reaction to House Bill 1726, which would revise rules for using force to detain people as part of a criminal investigation or to protect against criminal conduct. Law enforcement leaders opposed it, saying it still lacked the clarity needed for officers in the field. Social justice activists opposed it, too, saying it weakened the law. Both bills could get voted on next week.

Eliminate this job

A decade ago, then-governor Chris Gregoire had the audacity to suggest that the superintendent of public instruction should be appointed rather than elected. She argued oversight of the state’s public education system from early learning through college could be handled by a cabinet-level department.

It didn’t garner a lot of support from then-state superintendent Randy Dorn or lawmakers, for that matter. She dropped it.

Today, Sen. Reuven Carlyle introduced Senate Bill 5820 to try again. This time, the current superintendent, Chris Reykdal, is good with the concept, though the bill would let him serve out his term. That might make a difference this time around.

On-time performance

If this session ends in 57 days as scheduled, it will mark five straight on-time completions for the Legislature. The last time state lawmakers managed such a streak was from 1935 to 1943, when they met every other year.

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